Dirty power plants seen as bigger threat to Japanese auto production than earthquake, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

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TOKYO: A global shift to zero carbon emission rules poses a greater potential threat to automobile manufacturing in Japan than the earthquake and tsunami that devastated its northwest coast exactly a decade ago, has said the president of Toyota Motor on Thursday.

The 2011 Fukushima earthquake destroyed factories and disrupted auto supply chains for months, raising questions about whether production should go overseas.

A decade later, Japan’s heavy reliance on coal and gas to generate electricity meant that unless it could replace them with renewable energy sources, automakers would emit carbon during production. , which could exceed the limits adopted by other countries, even for zero-emission vehicles, said Akio Toyoda, speaking as president of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA).

“In the past, production was moved from Japan to markets where cars were sold or to low-wage locations that offered a competitive advantage. The next shift could be to countries that have a more sustainable energy structure,” he said. said Toyoda.

“The challenge is an order of magnitude greater than that of the earthquake,” he added, speaking on the tenth anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed towns and factories and left 20 000 dead.

Of the nearly 10 million cars built in Japan by Toyota, Honda Motor Co, Nissan Motor Co and others, about half are exported, according to JAMA.

The industry employs over 5 million people and the Japanese auto lobby can influence government policy. Toyoda’s warning comes as Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s administration reflects on how to meet the target it announced last year of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 .

Japan has become more dependent on coal and natural gas since the tsunami, with the destruction of the Fukushima nuclear power plant forcing the shutdown of other reactors.

In addition to an expansion of solar power, the Japanese government and Toyota are also promoting the use of hydrogen as a means of reducing carbon emissions.

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